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Four key issues that could decide Euro semi-final between Wales and Portugal

July 6, 2016 5:31 PM
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Four key issues that could decide Euro semi-final between Wales and Portugal

It is hard to believe that Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to be as profligate against Wales as he has been at other times in this tournament.

One of the joys of watching the Portuguese do his thing for Real Madrid is the calmness he displays in front of goal. You do not score 260 goals in 236 appearances for your club without knowing how to finish and his nonchalance when confronted with an opportunity to add to his numbers is one of his many strengths.

During the Euros he has been snatching at chances rather than letting the ball come to him as he would in the white of Madrid. This over-eagerness led him to spurn golden opportunities against Iceland, including dragging his penalty wide, and particularly against Poland in the last round when he would have had a hat-trick had the match been at the Bernabeu.

Strangely, the grabbiness that affected him in the first two games – both drawn - against Iceland and Austria seemed to have dissolved when he calmly scored twice against Hungary in the final hectic group match that eventually finished 3-3. His header was beautifully timed and his flick with the instep was a measure in calmness.

But the edginess and desperation to do well for Portugal, to elevate himself into the category of true greats who win titles with club and country, was back against the Poles when he produced one air shot (Ronaldo? An air shot?) when clean through and scuffed another golden chance.

Which Ronaldo will rock up against Wales? The Real striker with the freedom of past successes flooding through his veins or the Portugal one paralysed by the fear of a rare opportunity squandered.

By his own high standards of two seasons ago when he started the campaign for Arsenal in glorious fashion, Aaron Ramsey had a mediocre time of it for Arsenal last term going 524.6 minutes per goal. That old snap and buzz seemed to have faded a tad but for Wales during these Euros he has been superb.

So his unavailability against Portugal is a hammer blow for Chris Coleman’s side. Fulham’s unheralded midfielder Jazz Richards looks the most likely candidate to come into the side – probably on the right with Chris Gunther moving into the back three for the suspended Ben Davies. They are alterations a side could do without in such a monumental game.


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